Lambing Flat, the Gold Rush, and a Garden

The pretty country town of Young, about 3 hours drive from Canberra, is known for its beautiful cherries in spring.

Many Canberrans make an annual trip to Young to pick their own cherries, or buy boxes of them at a very reasonable price.

NSW Tourism

However, our visit was not for cherries (this time),  we came to see the Chinese Tribute Gardens at Lambing Flat, on the outskirts of Young.

The name Lambing Flat came from the first European settler, James White, who farmed in this beautiful valley, in 1826. He reserved this well-sheltered valley for lambing ewes.

However, the gold rush changed the peaceful valley…

Mark Twain (apparently) famously said ”Whiskey’s for drinking, and water is for fighting over”

He might as well have added that when gold is found, greed, fighting and prejudice follow

Within  12 months of the discovery of gold in the Lambing Flat region, approx. 20 000 gold seekers, from all over the world, arrived, and amongst them were some 2000 Chinese miners.

Disagreements arose over the use of water, land ownership, and racial tensions…leading to an appalling riot destroying the Chinese camp and injuring many of the Chinese miners.

A large contingent of NSW police were sent to Lambing Flat, and eventually peace was restored.

With this history in mind, we arrived  at the Chinese Tribute Gardens early in the morning.

This garden has been designed and built in recognition of the contribution of the Chinese community to the settlement of Young.

It has been a true community effort, started by the Young Rotary Club, supported by local and regional businesses, grants from the Federal Government and the Cherry Festival and by the Sydney Chinese community as well.

A White Egret, a Sacred Ibis, and two very white ducks!

It is a warm morning with birds moving softly, reflected in the still water..

The gardens are ringed by bushland, and She-Oak (Casuarina) trees in the distance provide a wind break for this beautiful garden.

The rocks were sourced from a quarry near the neighbouring  town of Boorowa, and were worked on by a stonemason from Harden…

The Bronze Galloping Horse is a special feature in the garden. Known as the ‘Matafeiyan’, or “‘galloping horse stepping on a flying swallow”. It is modelled on the original which is preserved at the Gansu Province Museum in China.

In this peaceful setting the Galloping Horse may be galloping on a flying swallow, but is also a resting spot for early morning birds..

The Crepe Myrtles and Oleanders are all in flower… and the palms seemed perfectly placed between the rocks.

In this pool of tranquillity the rocks provide balance and harmony.

Early morning Dusky Moorhen

There are winding paths around the rocks, and benches, inviting us to sit and enjoy the plants, the birds, the water and reflections…a lovely way to spend a morning.

Lambing Flat, a beautiful valley, had experienced the worst of human behaviour during the gold rush.

Now it has been transformed by all the people in the community and beyond, coming together to build this quiet and peaceful place….a joy to visit.

Unfortunately we did not have time to stay long in the town of Young itself….(next time for the cherries)

However, on our way home we couldn’t resist stopping at the town of Wombat.

Also established during the gold rush, Wombat has a population of 120 people (no parking problems) and is surrounded by cherry and stonefruit orchards.

We stopped off to buy some “Fair Dinkum” eggs. (Fair Dinkum….the real thing)… freshly laid farm eggs.

We put the money in the Honesty Box, and hoped that life will remain the same in this part of the world for many years to come.

I hope you are enjoying your place in the world, where ever that may be…we enjoyed this weekend very much.

Many thanks to Paul for his photo contributions.


Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

23 Replies to “Lambing Flat, the Gold Rush, and a Garden”

  1. What a peaceful place well illustrated by excellent photographs. I thoroughly enjoyed scanning slowly through your post. I also loved the fact that ‘honesty boxes’ still work. bravo Australia!

    1. I don’t know what the Sacred Ibis was like when you were at the Royal Botanic Gardens, but they have become a real pest around any foodie places in the garden.

  2. Such lovely gardens, Gerrie. I love the gorgeous bird photos. I’m sure those ‘fair dinkum’ eggs are really fresh. My sister-in-law in England gets her eggs from a nearby farm where there is also an Honesty Box. I love this idea and also the sign saying “Wombat Eggs”……too funny. 😀

    1. Thanks Sylvia. It is nice to know there are places all over the world with Honesty Boxes. Yes, I bet those Wombat eggs could be confusing for some!

  3. I did enjoy this beautiful garden, but what a tragic history. Man’s endless inhumanity to man. The stones in the water are just stunning! I loved the pic of the white birds, gorgeous, and the resting birds on the galloping horse. Wombat looks like a lovely place to visit. We have honesty boxes here too. xxx

  4. Such an interesting post! I did enjoy this beautiful garden, but what a tragic history, man’s endless inhumanity to man. What a wonderful picture of the egret, ibis and ducks!!! I loved the birds on the galloping horse too and the rocks in the water. Wombat looks like a lovely place to visit. We have honesty boxes here

    1. It was really nice to see that a peaceful place could go back to being peaceful. I love Honesty Boxes, and I’ve heard there are plenty in Britain…I’m not surprised.

    1. The garden was really lovely that morning. I think California and parts of Australia, have had very similar gold rush experiences.

  5. Thank you for sharing this peaceful garden, Gerrie. Community gardens are so special; all those different groups of people working together to make something beautiful. I think they have made peace with the land now, after the horrors of the gold rush.

    1. Thanks Clare, I agree that community gardens are special, and there is no doubt the land is more peaceful now…a hopeful sign in the modern world too.

  6. That was a beautiful garden to visit. It looks wonderful in the early morning light, the reflections in the water are magical. One of my relatives ended up in Tasmania, there were scuffles there too with Chinese miners. It looks a tranqil place now very different to it’s history. Sarah x

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